I’m pretty sure we just survived the darkest week of the year.
When I say dark, I don’t mean metaphorically dark, as some folks are still referring to last year’s first week, which was marred by the Capitol riots of Jan. 6 and of which we just marked the first anniversary.
And when I say the darkest, I don’t mean the worst, although I hope it’s the worst because it wasn’t even all that bad. Now that I think about it, nothing happened. Nothing terrible, at least for me and those around me, but also nothing exciting.
We went back to work and school and all the routine and sometimes boring little obligations and appointments and details that fill our lives.
So when I say the darkest, I mean literally the darkest, though this is not technically true.
The darkest day of the year—or the shortest, the one in which the Earth is tilted the farthest away from the sun, and therefore the day with the least amount of light—was the winter solstice of Dec. 21.
But back then, on technically the darkest day of the year, the Christmas holidays were just getting rolling. Our Christmas tree was up and several of our neighbors had festooned their homes with lights.
Christmas cards from around the country and some parts of the world filled the basket on the table in our foyer. The Junior’s cheesecake that my brother’s family sends us every year from New York City had already arrived, and it was blueberry. Every few hours something somebody had ordered online for somebody else was appearing on our doorstep.
My adult or semi-adult children were starting to arrive from college or their working lives in other states. One by one, we’d see headlights in the driveway and then they’d appear in the doorway, taller and even better looking than we’d remembered and apparently genuinely glad to see us.
They’d dump their duffel bag and laptop case in their old room, go to the kitchen and fix a snack, and then plop down on the couch, and all was right with the world.
The day after Christmas, we all caravanned up to the North Carolina mountains, where we hiked and cooked and played cards and watched bowl games and built roaring fires that weren’t really necessary in the unseasonably warm weather. Those were not dark days.
One by one, our children left the cabin to return to their lives. Bess and I were the last to leave. We drove down the mountain as the sun was setting.
On Monday morning, at home on the first work day of the year, I woke up to pitch black and looked to my alarm clock with hopes that it was 3 a.m. and I had four more hours of sleep. Alas, it was 6:59.